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The last week of April saw Governor Baker travel to Gillette Stadium to be the first governor to attend the MASSBUYS Expo, review the progress of a major MBTA project on the Framingham-Worcester Commuter Rail Line, as well as announce the grant award recipients for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. Lt. Governor Polito used her signature to bring on the latest Community Compact partners, and address local business owners in Milford. On Saturday, Governor Baker participated in the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s annual Park Serve Day, while Lt. Governor Polito was in Walpole on Sunday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Walpole Town Forest.

Governor, Lt. Governor attend MASSBUYS EXPO, announce new supplier diversity certification for veteran business owners

On Wednesday, Governor Baker became the first governor to attend the MASSBUYS EXPO, a 100% exhibitor-funded, two-day event convening nearly 3,000 businesses and public purchasing and procurement officials from state and local government, non-profits and educational institutions. Now in its 18th year and hosted by the Operational Services Division (OSD), the MASSBUYS EXPO is the largest business to government event of its kind in New England. This event offers both buyers and vendors a unique opportunity to join together for an exciting day of interaction and discussion.

“MASSBUYS is where relationships are built, government resources connect, and businesses flourish,” said Governor Baker. “Increasing supplier diversity starts with opportunities like these to strengthen our engagement with small and diverse businesses.”

While attending the MASSBUYS EXPO, Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito announced a new Massachusetts Veteran Certification program and outreach process to reduce federal certification wait times, increase the participation of veteran and service-disabled veteran business owners in the Commonwealth’s supplier diversity program for goods and services’ contracts, and foster growth, competition and economic development opportunities for veteran-owned firms in Massachusetts.

“By improving the way our military men and women can contract with the Commonwealth, Massachusetts is sending a powerful statement to encourage entrepreneurship and advancement for hundreds of veteran business owners,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

This year’s MASSBUYS EXPO includes the first Supplier Diversity Networking Event, which allows small and diverse businesses that are certified by the Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) to network with MASSBUYS attendees and exhibitors.

Reviewing progress of MBTA infrastructure investments in Ashland

On Thursday, Governor Baker visited a Keolis work site in Ashland to review the progress on infrastructure upgrades that are a part of a larger effort the MBTA, its Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) and leadership are making to improve service, access, accountability and reliability for riders and taxpayers. In Ashland and along the Framingham-Worcester Commuter Rail Line, the MBTA is replacing over 26,000 rail ties between March and early June, to allow more efficient travel and lift speed restrictions due to heat that have been in place since the MBTA obtained the line in 2012. To date, over 10,000 of the 26,000 ties along the line have been installed and put the project three weeks ahead of schedule.

“Riders and taxpayers deserve and depend on a cost-effective and world-class transit system that can get them to work, school or wherever they need to be in a safe and timely way,” said Governor Baker. “Since last winter, the MBTA and its new leadership have undertaken a renewed focus on the important work of reducing costs and investing in infrastructure improvements to the core system that will ultimately mean more reliable public transit for commuters.”

The MBTA has invested over $600 million this fiscal year for State of Good Repair deferred maintenance, including an $83 million winter resiliency program, system-wide station improvements, and track, signal, and power system upgrades and the MBTA’s Fiscal Year 2016 capital investment plan calls for over $1.05 billion in long-term infrastructure, vehicle and station upgrades, including 325 new busses to replace the MBTA fleet. Additionally, a $104 million effort to refurbish 86 Green Line trolley cars is underway and the MBTA has hired a new Chief Procurement Officer to ensure timely and cost-effective investments.

Lt. Governor Polito visits vocational high school, signs community compacts

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Education Jim Peyser discussed the importance of vocational education during a visit to Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin on Wednesday. The school recently was awarded a $242,627 grant by the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program, funding the school will use to combine engineering and manufacturing classrooms.

Sturbridge, Holland, Southborough, and Walpole also became the most recent Community Compact partners as Lt. Governor Polito visited with local leaders to signed the compacts, signing up for best practices ranging from technology upgrades to enhance citizen engagement to developing long range financial forecasting models. Lt. Governor Polito also shared about the administration’s municipal and local goals during remarks before the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grants announced

Joined by Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ron Walker, Governor Baker on Friday announced more than $2 million in grants from the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF) to support 14 regional partnerships between businesses, educational institutions, community-based organizations, and workforce development groups. These grants will help prepare more than 370 unemployed and/or underemployed Massachusetts residents with additional skills and job training for in-demand occupations.

“The key to the success of Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund is active involvement between local businesses, community-based organizations, education and workforce development professionals,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “These partnerships create opportunities for the citizens of the Commonwealth and work to strengthen regional economies.”

Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grants were last distributed in 2013, and Governor Baker’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal would for the first time, award WCTF grants in two consecutive years. The governor’s budget proposal includes $4 million for WCTF, with $2 million allocated to WCTF grants and $2 million dedicated to a new Economic Opportunity Fund – housed within the WCTF – to award organizations who assist residents facing chronically higher unemployment rates than the statewide average.

“The training opportunities provided through the WCTF invest in the future and economic prosperity of individuals in need,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker II said. “Statewide, 75 percent of the people receiving training through WCTF partnerships are unemployed, with a majority classified as low-income or receiving a high school diploma or less.”

State parks get seasonal facelift

Park Serve Day is the MassParks annual statewide day of volunteer service and thousands of volunteers fanned out across the Commonwealth to prepare state parks and beaches for the summer recreation season by cleaning trash, clearing trails, planting flowers and trees, painting picnic tables, and more. Governor Baker visited the Breakheart Reservation in Saugus to help volunteers, including a troop of Boy Scouts, to rake leaves and plant trees, while other members of the cabinet participated around the Commonwealth.

Lt. Governor Polito on Sunday did some tree planting of her own, joining town officials to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Walpole Town Forest. In planting a sapling, Polito helped to continue a tradition as both Calvin Coolidge and Paul Cellucci did the same when they were serving as lieutenant governor.

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